An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics
Good Counsel College,
New Ross, Co. Wexford
Roll number: 63610I
Date of issue of report: 21 February 2008
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Good Counsel College, New Ross, Co. Wexford. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics and makes recommendations for the further development of the teaching of these subjects in the school. The evaluation was conducted over two days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and teachers, examined studentsí work, and had discussions with the teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teachersí written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal, deputy principal and the subject teachers.† The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.
Technical Graphics (TG) and Technical Drawing (TD)/Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) are optional subjects for both junior and senior cycle. At senior cycle, DCG forms part of the Transition Year (TY) and the established Leaving Certificate. There is an appropriate time allocation for TG and TD/DCG in junior and senior cycle. At junior and senior cycle, there are both single and double lessons. The latter provide adequate time for more complex problems to be completed in class time.
In choosing optional subjects, students receive a good level of support. At junior cycle, all students partake in a one year taster programme in first year, where they sample all optional subjects. This is supported by the subject departmentís involvement in an open day, a parents evening, class assemblies, and in individual and group advice from the guidance counsellor. At senior cycle, students are supported by their involvement in TY and through guidance offered to third-year and TY students.
At junior cycle, students having completed their taster programme choose their preferred optional subjects. TG is offered in a number of option bands, thus allowing all students the option to choose to study the subject. Students at senior cycle submit a list of preferences in relation to their optional subject choices. Subject option bands are then designed with student preferences in mind. This system is student centred.
There are a very high number of students studying TG and DCG/TD in Good Counsel College. This is a good indication of the work being carried out by the subject department in the promotion of the subjects.
There are two designated TG and TD/DCG rooms in the school, both of which provide adequate accommodation for the teaching and learning of the subjects. The senior drawing room has recently been refurbished and re-organised to provide student access to the new Department of Education and Science grant aided Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the new senior cycle DCG syllabus. The work carried out by the subject department in the preparation of the room for the implementation of the new syllabus is highly commendable. It is suggested, to further build on this good practice that school management and the subject department look to improve the aesthetics of the junior drawing room.†
School management encourages and facilitates staff to attend the continuous professional development (CPD) courses currently being provided by the Technology Subjects Support Service. The subject department has actively sourced a privately run course focusing on the parametric modelling software package that has been supplied to schools. School management and the subject departmentís continued commitment to CPD will be of great benefit to both the school and its students.
The subject department has formulated a subject plan for TG and TD. This plan primarily focuses on term by term curriculum content. It is recommended that the subject department work collaboratively on the further development of this plan to include planning for the implementation of the new DCG syllabus at senior cycle. It is important that the content of this syllabus and the methodologies required to teach it are discussed at subject department meetings and a programme for the introduction of this syllabus is devised immediately. The development of this plan should also include an agreed programme for the delivery of the syllabuses at junior and senior cycle within the department. This agreed programme would still allow for a degree of flexibility for individual teachers.
There was evidence of some good individual short-term planning during the evaluation. Best practice was observed when individual planning highlighted expected student learning outcomes over short-term timeframes. It is suggested that all members of the subject department further develop their own short-term planning based on this model.
The subject plan contains a brief section detailing course content of the graphics module offered during TY. The content and methodologies observed during the evaluation were more consistent with the Leaving Certificate course and were therefore not appropriate for the TY programme. It is recommended that an appropriate graphics module be developed for TY. This large subject department has wide-ranging expertise and an innovative and significantly different module, or modules, should be developed to reflect this strength.†
Teachers are informed of students with special educational needs and those requiring learning support at the beginning of each year. The subject plan also contains a section outlining the various methods reported to be used when dealing with specific special educational needs. The planning and implementation of peer learning was evident during the evaluation. This strategy was successful and was beneficial to students.
The level of planning and preparation for all lessons observed was very good and a number of resources were prepared in advance and used appropriately. There was evidence of cross-curricular planning in the subject plan, with specific links to other subjects highlighted.
All lessons observed during the evaluation had a clear learning objective. In some lessons, this was achieved by showing students the required question on the overhead projector and by discussing the possible solutions. Alternatively the objective was shared with the students through a demonstration to the group prior to students solving the problem. These approaches had the effect of focusing students on the required task and allowing queries to be clarified.
Almost all lessons observed were clearly structured so that content and pace were appropriate to the class group, the subject matter and to the time available. Effective practice was observed in a junior cycle lesson where students were introduced to a new topic - perspective projection. This topic was introduced in an innovative way. Initially a number of colourful pictures of buildings were circulated among students. Students were then instructed to locate various vanishing points and horizon lines on each picture. This method of introducing the topic allowed students to visualise the constructions necessary to create such a drawing. By introducing the topic in this way, the fundamental principles and construction methods necessary were demonstrated to students. This was carried out prior to students progressing to the construction of such a drawing using the principles demonstrated on the photographs. This lesson was concluded with a brief recap of the lessonís content to reinforce student learning. This practice is commendable.
A range of appropriate and varied teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. In all lessons individual and group demonstrations were used to present correct drawing procedures to students. In all lessons, where the blackboard was used, its use was clear and effective. This was achieved through the use of coloured chalk to demonstrate various line types and through good use of shading. In some instances the overhead projector was used to good effect by utilising overlay transparencies to demonstrate sequential progression through questions. In a senior cycle lesson, basic geometric models were also used effectively to help students visualise the representation of three-dimensional objects using orthographic projection. This varied approach to teaching the subject helps students to remain focused and can be a valuable tool in explanation of difficult concepts.
There was little evidence of the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of TG and TD/DCG throughout the evaluation. It is suggested, after departmental planning has taken place in relation to the implementation of the new senior cycle syllabus, that the department embrace the ICT elements of the course and implement them fully.
There was evidence of differentiated teaching methods to meet the needs of students in a number of lessons observed. In such instances students were assisted in completing drawings through individual support and guidance and through the implementation of peer teaching. Such students were also supported in most lessons observed by new subject matter being introduced in incremental and manageable steps. This approach to differentiated teaching is commendable.
In most lessons observed, students were encouraged to think for themselves through open-ended questioning and investigative approaches to questioning. This was particularly apparent in a senior cycle lesson where students were given a complex problem to solve. This problem involved students implementing various principles and constructions to achieve the solution. This approach to problem solving is essential in developing studentsí understanding and problem solving abilities. Students were regularly encouraged to suggest the next step in the construction of a drawing. This type of questioning improved the overall understanding of topics and helped other students to consolidate learning.
Classroom management was generally effective and conducive to an active learning environment. The classroom layouts facilitated teacher movement around the class and supported teacher demonstrations on the blackboard, whiteboard, and overhead projector.
On all occasions, teacher-student interactions were engaging, purposeful and mutually respectful. The majority of student responses were affirmed if correct or explored fully to outline why they were incorrect. This practice is commendable as it encourages student interaction thereby promoting learning.
In the lessons observed, students demonstrated an enthusiasm to co-operate and engaged in all classroom activities and answered question readily. In the majority of lessons, students were active in their learning, and their questions, responses to questions and completion of drawings reflected a very good level of understanding. Student work-rate was very high with a number of questions completed in each lesson.
Good Counsel College has a reputation for high achievement in TG and TD/DCG. This reputation is fully deserved as studentsí results in school assessments and examinations reflect very high attainment.
A range of assessment modes was regularly used to assess student competence and progress. These included: questioning in class; monitoring of homework; end-of-topic class tests and end-of-term class tests. Best practice was observed when a proportion of the marks awarded for end-of-term tests were based on studentsí coursework. It is suggested that this approach be adopted throughout the department. This approach would benefit students by preparing them for the coursework/project work element of the DCG syllabus while also rewarding students for maintaining up to date and complete portfolios.
Currently there are no common arrangements for assessments in place within the subject department. It is recommended that the subject department consider the introduction of a common assessment policy in order to streamline assessment procedures from a planning and implementation perspective.
Feedback on assessments and especially on homework was used to assist students to reflect on their learning. In some instances this was achieved through written comments on student drawings and in other instances through oral feedback upon the completion of drawings during class. This allows for the evaluation and modification of teaching strategies where appropriate and also helps to diagnose and address individual and class learning needs. The subject departmentís approach to providing quality feedback to students is highly commendable.
Homework is assigned and corrected regularly. Generally students are required to finish questions started in class, or are asked to redo questions to consolidate learning. It is recommended, to build on this good practice, that the subject department explore the possibility of introducing a common policy in relation to student portfolios. This policy could include the provision of in-school storage facilities for students, a preferred folder type for students to store their drawings and the possible introduction of a list of required drawings for each year group.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
∑ The senior Technical Drawing/Design Communication Graphics room has recently been refurbished and re-organised to facilitate the implementation of the new syllabus at senior cycle.
∑ There is appropriate time allocation to the subject at junior and senior cycle.
∑ There is a good support system in place for students when making important optional subject choice decisions.
∑ A very high proportion of students choose Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics in Good Counsel College.
∑ School management supports and facilitates CPD.
∑ Quality planning and preparation for individual lessons was evident.
∑ All lessons observed had a clear learning objective and this was shared with students at the start of each lesson.
∑ A variety of teaching strategies and methodologies was used effectively.
∑ Quality feedback was given to students on completion of class work and homework.
∑ A range of assessment modes is regularly used to assess student competence and progress.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
∑ The subject department should work collaboratively on the further development of the subject plan, with particular emphasis on the implementation of the new DCG syllabus at senior cycle and on a common agreed programme for the delivery of the syllabuses at junior and senior cycle.
∑ The subject department should develop an appropriate graphics module for Transition Year consistent with the aims and objectives of the programme.
∑ The subject department should explore the possibility of introducing a common policy in relation to the storage and usage of student portfolios.
∑ The subject department should consider the introduction of a common assessment policy.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics and with the principal and deputy principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1†† Observations on the content of the inspection report†† ††
The staff of Good Counsel College, especially those inspected in this report, and the Board of Management enthusiastically welcome this overwhelmingly positive report.† That the main strengths out number the key recommendations by over two to one is particularly significant.† The subject department will use the four key recommendations which relate to planning to further structure their on-going work at school development planning.
We are concerned that the manner in which paragraph 4 on page 4 is phrased might lead the reader to the incorrect conclusion that ICT is not been used in the teaching and learning of TG and TD / DCG in Good Counsel College.
The subject department and the school have wholeheartedly embraced the ICT elements of the course and will implement them fully.† This is evidenced by:
A) The school has converted an existing T.G. room to cater for the new elements of the course.† Many other schools have come to see this room and copy same.
B) All members of the department attended the training in the new elements of the course as provided by the DES.
C) Some members of the department have undertaken further training at their own expense and in their own time to supplement the DES training.† The school supports and encourages this initiative.
Area 2†† Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection. †††††††††
The school intends to refurbish another T.G. / D.C.G. room as soon as funds become available from the DES.
The school will continue to support teachers in their on going professional development in this area.
The school will build a new and much needed further T.G. / D.C.G. room as soon as funding is released by the DES and thus will be in a position to offer this subject in a suitable classroom to all students who request it.